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Neighbor: Arson victims suffered anti-gay harassment

Posted February 5, 2011
Updated February 7, 2011

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— Johnston County authorities were investigating a fire Saturday that gutted a home near Clayton and displaced a gay couple who had been victims of harassment for more than a year.

The couple, who did not want to be identified out of fear for their safety, is staying in a motel after fire ripped through their house in the Winston Pointe subdivision, off Guy Road, around 1:30 a.m. Friday.

They were out of town when the fire was set. A neighbor reported it.

The fire is being investigated as an arson, said Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell, but he said it does not appear to be related to a string of suspicious fires in the area.

A neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of backlash against her, said there have been at least three separate incidents of anti-gay harassment at the home. A note with derogatory language was left in the mailbox, an anti-gay slur was written on the house with marker, and the tires of a car parked in the garage were slashed, the neighbor said.

"For this to happen here... it's heartbreaking," she said. "I can't even put into words how horrible it is for them."

Bizzell confirmed that the sheriff's office was aware of two of those incidents, but would not say which two. He would not confirm whether they are related to the arson investigation.

"I felt sick to my stomach. I felt so sorry for the two gentlemen. They lost everything," the couple's friend and neighbor said. "We do believe that this is a hate crime."

Other neighbors in the subdivision were surprised by the fire.

"(I) just didn't know what to expect," said neighbor Kivet Roseboro. "(I) saw a lot of water and a lot of smoke."

Roseboro awoke to authorities at his door, asking if he had seen anything suspicious.

"All the neighbors are scared," Roseboro said. "I'm not sure who would want to do this."

The Red Cross is supplying the victims with food, clothes and contacts for insurance, the organization said.

Bizzell said there are no suspects at this time. No other information was released.

22 Comments

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  • customartist Feb 15, 5:30 p.m.

    Many commenters deny the fact that there is still widespread bias.

    My husband and I have endured harrassment, both overt and covert, by and through our homeowners association, and some of the individuals who run it for years.

    It happens. And the Law Enforcement officials who dismiss so very quickly the fact that this is indeed related to Hate, would not dismiss incidents of say, stalking, if those incidents lead to a Straight Woman being attacked. In that case, the Sheriff would surely be looking intently at and/or for the one who had previously stalked or harassed, as the two men were. The Sheriff was just too quick to make the determination thatt his was not a hate crime, in 24 hrs, with suspect vehicle still at large, and neighbors saying clearly that the homeowners had endured harassment. He was also Slow to provide investigations and protection.

    There is a double standard, ableit ever so subtle.

    I will also take exception to the poster claiming that hate is not related t

  • rishl1973 Feb 11, 2:20 p.m.

    its a shame that people think they can change other people and their way of living. However you live you life is your business and you have to take account for your actions on day. But it doesn't give anyone the right the mistreat another because they are different in anyway!!!!

  • MrsCK Feb 8, 8:54 a.m.

    Hey Christians: This is NOT ABOUT YOU. Stop getting offended and hijacking conversations about gay rights and hate crimes.
    If you are really offended, work vigilantly to change the face of Christianity from one of hate to one of love and acceptance (or at least tolerance). In the meantime please note that the majority of outspoken gay bashers identify as Christian community leaders.
    Don't be offended, become aware of the hatred that is being spread in your name.

  • markpatro Feb 7, 12:17 p.m.

    The news media could begin to bring peace between Heterosexuals and the gay community if they would just understand that constantly using the sexualized word "homosexual" is in itself incendiary. We call ourselves the "Gay Community". I seriously doubt that this TV station uses other descriptors with an equally negative tone toward other minority groups. North, south, East Coast, Mid-West or West coast shouldn't matter. If you want to flame the fires of bigotry continue using "Homosexuality" if you want to recognize each one of us is a member of the community use "gay", or "lesbian", or "LGBT" even.

  • SweetB Feb 7, 12:08 p.m.

    we are not supposed to judge each other -- geez. how horrible for them to have to suffer. may peace find us all, soon.

  • sillywabbitthepatriot Feb 7, 11:17 a.m.

    "Typical southern Christian mentality"-njstephen

    I doubt you actually know many typical southern Christians or you wouldn't have made such an ignorant comment.

  • bear2010 Feb 7, 11:11 a.m.

    everyone has a right to their opinion...but that doesnt mean you have to destroy someone property to get your opinion to address your opinion

    Intimidating someone doent make them go away, it only makes them stronger...

  • NC Reader Feb 7, 10:49 a.m.

    njstephen -- Your comments stereotyping "southern Christian[s]" are as offensive as comments that stereotype gay people. I am a Southern Christian (Baptist, to be precise), and I know no one who thinks the harassment and arson that these two men underwent were anything but terrible. There are a large number of Christian churches in the South that have openly gay members, and there are some that perform union services. Even the people I know who don't approve of homosexuality would never condone acts of violence toward gay people. Oh, sure, there are some crazies who would advocate violence, just like there are some gay pedophiles. However, neither of those groups represents most Southern Christians nor most gays.

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT Feb 7, 10:34 a.m.

    "Arson victims suffered anti-gay harassment"

    Not shocking if they were actually living in the Clayton or Garner area.

  • njstephen Feb 7, 10:14 a.m.

    This is a hate crime. This was meant not just to burn down a house, this was meant to intimidate a group of people; a group already marginalized by society.

    I find this act beyond disgusting. Typical southern Christian mentality: Love the sinner. Hate the sin.. Well we can now update that saying: Love the sinner, hate the sin, burn down their house.

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